In the hospitality industry, QR codes are all the rage right now because they’re practically e-commerce payments. However, customers are still physically seated in restaurants, blurring the lines between online and offline.
Various innovative payment methods are being leveraged to increase the efficiency of foodservices from fast food outlets to fine dining restaurants. However, restaurant owners want more: they want to further streamline the checkout process and allow customers to follow the entire process – from order to payment – on their mobile devices.
This year, we will see the entire payment process on customer devices instead of using different hardware or payment terminals. This will give customers the autonomy to pay and leave whenever they want, which means higher customer turnover rates and higher tips. Here is what is expected.
No more hostage tip with SMS and payment
Pay-at-the-table solutions, where staff bring a device for card or phone payment, can often lead to tipping hostage – where the waiter tells the customer how much to tip, almost making them feel guilty about giving more than he wanted, even after bad service. This is particularly a problem in the United States, where the custom of tipping has also become an issue for servers.
Text-to-order is already a popular replacement for downloading apps, especially as customers can save repeat purchases. But once a customer sends their order via SMS, they can also receive a link to pay for their order immediately. Customers could pay – and add tips – on their own device instead of other terminals.
Research for years has shown that people tip more and even spend more when transactions are completely digital, with no physical interaction, in part because it doesn’t feel like they’re spending money.
Voice control to facilitate interactions with restaurants
Voice control – through smart speakers and voice assistants via mobile phones – may not be adopted immediately by the hospitality industry, but restaurants are uniquely positioned to take advantage of it.
It will most likely take off at fast food restaurants and drive-ins. However, it could also be useful in other contexts, relieving waiters and providing a more intuitive option for self-ordering on an app, as customers could pay without further contact.
Additionally, as tourism begins to reopen after the pandemic, it will be revolutionary for popular tourist destinations where language barriers exist. Travelers would be able to order in their own language, on their own devices and at their own pace.
Everything in restaurants is about speed: how quickly can they get customers in and out and seat another table? Voice recording takes steps out of the order-taking process from servers, eliminates human error, and gives customers autonomy over the checkout process.
In-app pre-order solutions to fight food waste
According to ReFED, the US restaurant industry generates 11.4 million tons of food waste annually, which equates to more than $25 billion in losses. Payment technology data could help predict store demand patterns and identify demand drivers.
For example, if a recurring customer comes by at the same time every week and orders the same meal, restaurants can pull that data from payment apps and start creating order profiles. At Bleu, we partnered with a foodservice group who wanted people to choose a menu a day in advance, so they could plan accordingly, instead of delivering too much food and throwing away the rest.
With an in-app pre-order solution, customers could choose the items they wanted and make an e-commerce payment. When customers showed up to pick up food, Bluetooth GPS tracking correctly identified customers, preventing ordering errors.
This type of service would be difficult to implement in fast-moving restaurants. But restaurants sitting with regular customers could start building customer profiles and receiving metrics on order types. Restaurants could even offer incentives to customers who order ahead, as they reduce waste and increase profits.
QR payment vs contactless payment solutions
There are point-of-sale (POS) solutions that provide restaurants with QR codes that customers can scan to complete the entire checkout process on their phone. But customers are tired of navigating new digital platforms or payment processes every time they eat out.
Bluetooth technology, when integrated into a POS solution, completely eliminates the need for QR codes – merchants can send payment requests through an app or use existing POS devices for a contactless transaction . On one app, a customer can place orders on their profile and checkout without a cashier needing to send a payment request, which means holistic solutions for all use cases.
Overall, it looks like we’ll be saying goodbye to big payment terminals and drastically reducing the number of restaurant interactions to minimize the margin for human error and service delays. Instead, the industry will embrace integrated and contactless payments to increase the speed and efficiency of all types of catering.